I want to be famous.
But when I say 'famous' I don't mean like just a movie star or a skanky socialite—I want to be an idol, a timeless icon. Like Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn Monroe (who was skanky, yes, but quite memorable). I don't want to be forgotten when I die, I want to live on forever. Audrey Hepburn will never die, and dammit, one day Sakura Haruno won't either!
When I first told my mother that I wanted to be Audrey-famous I was five years old. I had just watched Breakfast At Tiffany's for the first of many times and the night before I had gone to a Russian ballet performance with my father.
"Mama," I said, "I want to grow up and be famous. Wouldn't that be just dah-ling?"
I was trying to imitate Audrey's elegant speech in Breakfast At Tiffany's, but coming out of a five year old, the sophisticated drawl just seemed plain silly.
My mother gave me a funny look and then patted my little hand. "Sure, sweetie," she replied, "sure." She didn't think it would happen. After all, you can be famous, but rarely do people ever get that famous.
After a while, my mother probably assumed that my goal of becoming super-famous had faded away, but it didn't. I managed to convince my parents into sending me to ballet lessons at the local dance studio, owned by the wealthy Hyuuga family.
We didn't have much money, but I bargained with the Hiashi Hyuuga—I would befriend his petite, quiet daughter in exchange for dance lessons, free of cost.
Hiashi's daughter, Hinata, was a sweet little girl with a soft eyes and an even softer voice. She was shy, absurdly so, but once you got to know her she made fairly good company. We trained together in the Hyuuga Dance Center until our high school graduation.
I graduated and worked as a part-time dance instructor at the Dance Center in order to pay for classes at the local university.
I majored in ballet.
I'm 21 years old now, and I've had an entire summer since graduating from university. I'm not famous yet, but I'm trying. I'm not going to give up, and I realized that the only way I'll ever be famous is to get out of this little town and make my niche in society, carve my name into the heart of the world.
All of my belongings are in one suitcase. I have a three pairs of jeans and five tee-shirts and a jacket, and some underwear and socks, but I also have seven pairs of tights, three pairs of dance slippers and my pointe shoes, five leotards, a few tattered skirts, and a performance dress, carefully stowed away in between thin layers of clothes. There's a small purse of quarters for pay phones and a tiny bag of toiletries and cosmetics. Half of my money is in cash in my wallet, the other half is reserved exclusively for bus tickets.
It takes me a while to notice that I'm actually smiling while I board the cramped tourist bus. I have no idea where I'm going, and I only have enough money to live off of for a month at the most, but I'm still happy.
'Cause I'm getting out of this place.
This bus goes from my dinky little hometown to Suna to Ame to Kusa to Taki to Oto and finally to Konoha—a circular bus route that swings around all the big cities.
I'm going to each city to seek my fortune. Somehow I'll get by, and somehow I'll make friends, meet people who can help me, and reap the benefits of pure independence. If I don't get famous in one stop, I'll take the bus and move on to the next city.
The bus driver turns the key in the ignition and the bus's engine rumbles to life before idling at a noticeable, but not obnoxious, hum, pleasant background noise.
The bus starts to move, and I step into the world.
Suna is a lively desert town, gritty and irritatingly hot. People bustle around with a purpose, and the automatic doors of the shops lining the sidewalks are so sensitive that they pull open with any movement, showering you with a blast of cold air conditioning.
The first thing I do is bum a newspaper off of a rich-looking man sitting on a bench overlooking a park. He's around my age, but his business suit makes him look decades older.
"Can I borrow your paper?" I ask sweetly, smiling with shiny teeth and taking advantage of my eyelashes. I am all too aware that my hair is slightly stringy from being on a bus for two days (but it's up in a bun, so I like to think I still look decent) and my clothes are wrinkled, but I'm a dancer, so maybe that'll be enough to charm his newspaper away.
He looks at me, and I know he can tell by my suitcases and my clothes that I'm not from around here and I probably never will be. I might be a dirty woman with no money to her name, but he gives me his newspaper anyway, taking out his Blackberry instead.
Suna has columns and columns of help-wanted ads, so the chances of one of them being related to dance is high.
THE SUNA TIMES
Wanted: Temp. dance instruc.
Suna Dance Acad.
Call 832-555-3195 to apply.
The job is only temporary, most likely because a production is being staged, or because an instructor is on maternity leave, but I'll take it.
"You seem well qualified," the Academy owner, Temari Subaku, tells me as she looks over my resume. "You've been teaching for a long time, and your skills test shows that you're obviously in shape. You're hired"
Temari is an ex-model/ballerina, one of those genuinely beautiful adult women who has pretty eyes and good skin and the whole rest of the package. I don't know why she quit, but she could still be a performer. Instead, she's stuck taking care of a slightly rundown dance studio with questionable teachers and snotty kids.
"Thank you very much," I say to Temari, smiling.
My job is a nine-week deal. One of the instructors tore her ACL, a fatal move to her career. But she's a fighter, so she's coming back as soon as she can walk without crutches. She won't ever be able to dance like she could before, but it doesn't matter, because she'll try.
She'll come back after nine weeks, and then I'll be out of a job.
But by then, anything can happen. Maybe I'll get famous right here, on my first stop into the world. But then again, maybe I won't.
If I don't, then I'll just get on the bus again and try again.
"Alright guys, we're gonna wanna stretch really well, so reach down and touch your toes!"
The dance instructor I'm covering for teaches all elementary, beginner classes. I'm working with five year olds, the occasional six year old, and I have a class of toddlers.
"Miss Sakura, I needa go t' the baffroom!" one of the little girls call out.
I look up from my stretch and smile at her. "Okay, Mai, but you have to hurry, okay? You don't want to miss stretching. It's very important."
Mai flashes a toothy grin and runs out of the studio in the classic 'I gotta pee!' position. Nice.
The rest of the class is boring. I like kids well enough, but they aren't my favorite, and as a group of beginners, all we really do is stretch and do clumsy plies at the barre. The kids are alright and the money is decent, but there is nothing holding me back in Suna. I know that in nine weeks I'll be on the bus again.
There is one perk to being at the studio though—and his name is Gaara. He's a hot mess, one of those types who wears pants tighter than mine and has tattoos—there's a kanji for 'love' on his forehead. Bad ass. Gaara is Temari's little brother, about my age, rebellious and forced to take business classes at the local university so he can help run the dance studio.
Usually the broody rebel boys don't attract me, but there's something about Gaara that drew me in anyway. He's intense and a lot deeper than you'd think.
He's the perfect nine-week fling.
"I don't want to take over the studio," Gaara says nonchalantly to me one night after my last class. "Call me a cliché, but I wanted to be a musician." His red hair is messy and he looks frustrated. He leans back against the park bench we're sitting at and sighs.
"I don't want to teach elementary dance classes in Suna forever either," I tell him, smiling, smoothing down his hair with a free hand. "I want to be a dancer, a real one."
Gaara just stares at me for a few minutes. "You're leaving, aren't you?" he says quietly. I hadn't told anyone yet that I was planning on moving out of Suna after the nine weeks were up.
"Yeah," I say to him. I sigh this time and lean my head against his shoulder. "Sorry, but I have to keep going if I want to achieve my dream."
The sky is dark, pitch black, dotted with about three visible stars and the occasional airplane. "You're lucky," Gaara finally says. "You're lucky you're allowed to go off and do whatever you can to get to your dream."
Gaara's trapped in Suna. It's a big city, but somewhere like this just isn't enough to contain him. "It doesn't mean you can just quit though," I say. "I try to live life to the fullest."
Gaara looks down at my head on his shoulder and, for once, he smiles. "Yeah? Me too."
And then we kiss, because that's what anyone in our situation would do.
When nine weeks are up, it's already the middle of November. It's cold, and I've had to use part of my earnings from the dance academy to invest in a long pea coat and some thicker socks. I got them cheap, of course, from Goodwill, but still.
"Sakura, thank you so much," Temari says to me, handing me my last paycheck and smiling. There are bags beneath her eyes and her blonde hair is scraped back into a sloppy ponytail. "You're awesome. Are you sure you don't want to stay?"
I smile at her. "Nah, Temari. You're the awesome one, singlehandedly running this studio. But I can't stay. I have bigger dreams I need to chase, as cheesy as it sounds." I laugh and begin to button up my coat. "Take care, Temari. I wish for you the best."
Temari grins. "Tear up that stage, Sakura. If you ever need anything, come back to Suna."
We say our final goodbyes and when I exit the dance academy's office, I see Gaara sitting in a chair, waiting. "Ready to leave?"
I smile at him. "One stop at the bank, and then we're off to the station."
Gaara takes my suitcase with one hand and then my hand with the other and leads me out the academy.
The stop at the bank is brief, just me depositing my final check, bulking up my bank account just a little bit more.
At the bus station, Gaara watches me buy my one-way ticket with envy. He's silent as he walks me to the platform and we wait for the bus to come. When it finally arrives, we can hear it from a mile off, breaks squeaking and gears shifting.
"Well, this is it," I say to Gaara, leaning in the hug him. "Thank you so much, Gaara. Without you, these nine weeks would have been worthless."
Gaara hugs me back and I can feel his breath against my ear as he whispers to me, "Good luck. Kill some bitches."
He lets me go and I hoist my suitcase underneath the bus myself, smiling just a little bit. Gaara is still watching, hands in his pockets. I approach him one last time and I give him a fairly innocent goodbye kiss along with a cheeky smile. "Get outta this town, Gaara. You deserve a lot more."
And then I step up the stairs into the bus, my next destination barely over the horizon.
New story! This one will be short, with maybe eight or nine chapters max. I was debating between making one really long oneshot or a short multi-chap for the longest time, but now it's up.
It was originally, and still is, a gift!fic for Annie Sparklecakes!